The Memory of Fashion

The pair of jeans I wore when I went roller skating and met the worst mistake of my life…the black suit that I have worn to every funeral since I was 25…the denim jumper I wore when I got my ears pierced at the age of 12…the navy blue straight leg silk pants with embroidered baby’s breath flowers I wore on my first overnight date with the man that taught me what true love really meant… all articles of clothing cloaked in memories.  It is true that women cling to the clothing they wore as events fill the chapters in the books of our lives, after all what’s a story without the accessories that give it vivid detail.  This notion is brilliantly and hilariously explored in the off-Broadway production of Love, Loss and What I Wore playing at The Westside Theatre.


Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron

Based on the best-selling book by Ilene Beckerman (and adapted for the stage by Nora and Delia Ephron) Love, Loss and What I Wore is a collection of stories performed by an all-star rotating cast that has included Rhea Perlman, Rosie O’Donnell, Rita Wilson and Tracee Ellis Ross.  Each cast performs in four week intervals.  The March cast stars Didi Conn, Fran Drescher, Jayne Houdyshell, Carol Kane and Natasha Lyonne. The play starts and ends with Gingy’s Story with other narratives woven in between.  The cast, dressed in black, sit and deliver the monologues. The set is a tapestry of dresses changing in color. 

March Cast

The play covers the full gamut of emotions from a fashionable perspective.  At times I was bursting with laughter and at others I found myself fending off the lump forming in my throat.  It even covers topics like the frenzy women experience when trying on outfits in the dressing room, the obsession with being fat or thin, the hell women put their feet through for a pair of sexy stilettos, all topics that drive women schizophrenic.   Other stories are more personal like Boots, an anecdote about neglect, even fashion icon Madonna was paid homage.

Beautiful, touching and filled with humor Love, Loss and What I Wore intimately tell tales that any woman can relate to and provide a little insight into a woman’s mind for the men sitting in the audience.  In fact, my greatest confirmation that this play is a must see was provided by the man that accompanied me.  This is a man that I thought had the inside track on women, but to my surprise he left the theater enlightened.  Mental note, the plum dress and limited edition patchwork Timberlands I wore when I helped a man from Mars learn more about the planet Venus.  A new memory has been created.

Photos:  Carol Rosegg courtesy of O&M Co.

Spring Dreams with Shakespeare

When the first act of Blessed Unrest’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream ended with a spirited interpretative dance to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, it became evident that this was not my mother’s interpretation of William Shakespeare.  But in truth, the signs were already there.  From the first scene of the play, the physicality in which the actors approached the material changed my perception of this play.  Instead of focusing on the dialogue, I was more interested in the emotions of the characters brilliantly displayed by the actors.  The almost clichéd idea of loving someone that doesn’t return your love and the trickery one might devise to change that situation spells for a bad romance indeed.

Jessica Burr

Blessed Unrest is a non-profit experimental theatre company that has been generating original work since 1999.  Director Jessica Burr has been running the company for nine years.  “What really grabs me about this story is the love relationships,” Jessica states about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “So we worked a lot [the relationships] to find the heart of them.  Often times they are glossed over, but we really wanted to get to the meat of it and make it very real and very passionate.”

This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream definitely has passion.  In fact, it is all heart, soul and fluid movement.  “As a company we train every month in physical theater.  I like to see bodies moving.  It’s just pleasing,” Jessica explains as she smiles. The actors seamlessly weaved through the production playing multiple characters.  The authenticity in which they approach each character led me to believe the cast took a class in multiple personality syndrome.  Another enjoyable aspect was the transition of Lysander, played by Stephen Drabicki, to a hearing impaired young man and the company’s incorporation of sign language into the script.  It added another layer to an already intricate story.

At the core of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are the themes of love and obsession which makes it perfect for a non-profit troupe like Blessed Unrest.  It could be said that art and the business of entertainment is a bad romance.  So often artists remain in the theater because they are in love or even obsessed by what they do.  Unfortunately as much as the arts are coveted in this country, our government doesn’t provide the financial support to the arts as other countries.  It is sad to think that in a city as creative as Manhattan that an artist simply cannot live as an artist and have their craft be their only occupation.  The love of breathing life into new and classic material is inherent with the members of Blessed Unrest, many of whom were in attendance on the opening night lending their support in the audience and various off-stage roles.  “There’s something to be said for obstacles and challenges, and I really do think it makes us stronger and makes us more creative because we have to find ways to make money,” Jessica says.

Blessed Unrest’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be playing at The Interart Theatre, 500 West 52nd Street, until April 12.  Blessed Unrest claims to be theatre for the adventurous, and their declaration did not disappoint.  Also, with ticket prices set at $15, it is a journey that is affordable for every New Yorker.  FAMERS I suggest an evening frolicking in Shakespeare’s magical woods with this innovative company.  I found it to be a dream that is hard to forget. 

To learn more visit

Rock On

New York City and L.A. have an endless rivalry. It can be seen in music, fashion and overall lifestyle.  Growing up in the ‘80s, there was not much I envied about L.A.  After all New York City had it all, with the exception of Aqua Net teased, spandex clad, lipstick wearing studs turning themselves into Rock Gods.  In the ‘80s if you had dreams of Rock stardom, you went to L.A. and in 2010 the old Sunset Strip has returned in like a totally major way in Rock of Ages on Broadway.

Rock of Ages is a hilarious musical comedy that explores following your dreams and the music of the great hair bands.    Walking into the Brooks Atkinson Theater I felt as if I was entering a Mötley Crüe video.  The strip was alive at the Bourbon Room, the setting for the musical, and was completed with a video monitor, huge signs and a band on stage.  The Bourbon Room has all the makings of a sordid‘80’s bar where Rock ruled and debauchery was not far behind. 

Emily Padgett is a wonderful as the young, naive Sherrie, the young small town girl who just arrives in L.A. in pursuit of an acting career.  Her bright, bubbly smile and fantastic singing voice is a great addition to the cast, and her legs in those mini skirts are not so shabby either. 

American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis was born to play the role of Drew, the sensitive rocker with a soul.  His voice simply shines in this musical and it is no wonder why he received a Tony Award nomination.  Maroulis shows why he will be an idol for a long time to come.

James Carpinello is comical as rock-star Stacee Jaxx.  His portrayal of the out-of-control, self-absorbed frontman for the fictitious band Arsenal is extremely convincing.

Mitchell Jarvis

Mitchell Jarvis is the true break out star of this musical as Lonny, the narrator and Dennis’ (the owner of the Bourbon Room) sidekick, played by Adam Dannheisser.  Jarvis is a cola shooting through the nose crack-up as he takes the audience through the plot with humorous banter.  The unrequited relationship between Adam and Lonny is also funny. 

Paul Schoeffler is entertaining as the German corporate raider Hertz looking to rid the Sunset Strip of all its perversion and turn it into a clean, respectable place. 

Tom Lenk and Lauren Molina are a scream as Franz and Regina.  Their discovery of love through protests to keep the strip alive helps to add another layer to the plot.  Michele Mais is simply marvelous as Justice, a role she has played since the start of Rock of Ages, the strip club owner with a heart.

The major component of Rock of Ages is of course the music and is the heart and soul of this production.  It revisits the best of ‘80s hair bands with music from Poison, Journey, Styx, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sista and Asia.  I particularly like the way in which the songs were used to illustrate the cast’s emotions.  When Stacee Jaxx arrives at the Bourbon Room for an interview with a reporter, he sings Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” to describe what it is like to be a rock star.  When Sherrie arrives, we are reminded of her innocence with “Sister Christian”.   As the cast deals with conflict they belt out “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.  The careful selection of the music in Rock of Ages is the reason why it is a winner and a musical that I predict will have a long life with multiple incarnations.  

After almost a year on Broadway, it is apparent that this production is solidly built on Rock n’ Roll.  But for me it is built on nostalgia.  I thoroughly enjoyed singing along with the cast to songs that I used to listen to while doing my homework.  I equally enjoyed watching the audience enjoy the performance.  The audience was a tapestry of young and old faces and families.  The idea that there was a “Sherri and Drew” in the audience that met and fell in love to these tunes and are now sharing them with their kids was a thought that was endearing to say the least.  It was great to see how many young adults were in the audience enjoying the show, raising their lighters and rocking in their seats. 

Another element of the show that sparked a hint of nostalgia was the parallel between the Sunset Strip and a beloved area of mine.  The quest to clean up the Strip and make it “family friendly” is similar to the transformation of Times Square.  When I was a kid Times Square was seedy with strip clubs galore and was not a place to be at night unless you were looking for sex or trouble.  It was dark, dangerous and forbidden, and I loved it.  Now that Times Square is a string of boulevards dedicated to corporate branding, it makes me miss the Times Square I remember as a child even more.  In some respects, the soul has been taken out and replaced with a strip mall.  One thing I took away from Rock of Ages is that grit is good.  Long live Rock n’ Roll!


Spreading Some Good News

A soul food restaurant in Harlem is as common place as a theater on Broadway.  Copeland’s…Sylvia’s…Amy Ruth’s; soul food is big business uptown.  So why open another soul food restaurant in an area filled with restaurants specializing in Southern cuisine?  The answer for Joseph H. Holland, founder and owner of Gospel Uptown, aka “GU”, and Executive Chef Kenneth Collins was a simple one, opulence and opportunity.

Joseph H. Holland is a Harlem-based entrepreneur, attorney, public servant and ordained minister with twenty-five years of experience working in prominent organizations in law, business and government. “I came to Harlem from Harvard Law School in 1982”, Holland says, “I had some opportunities to work on Wall Street and other places, but I had a vision and a commitment to give back to the community.”

Along with Joseph Holland’s other development and community building projects, “GU” is the realization of his vision.  “GU” is located on 2110 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in the heart of Harlem.  This impressive 12,000 square restaurant and entertainment venue is broken into a main dining floor and several intimate VIP-styled spaces and state-of-the-art sound stage.  The lighting and décor present an intimate, “grown and sexy” aesthetic with various colorful artworks on the walls, some of which were created by Chef Collins. 

Palettes of color is one of many ways in which Kenneth Collins expresses his artistry, but he is best known for creations that pleases his patrons’ flavor palettes.  “I tell a quick story,” Chef Collins says about his start in cooking, “I love clothes and shoes.  [When] I was fourteen-years-old, my mother told me basically that she was buying my clothes and to go get my own job.  So I got a job so I could buy my own clothes and shoes and it turns out it was something that I love to do. I started out as a bus boy. I love food and started cooking.”

Since its opening in August 2009, “GU” has established itself as the premiere venue in Harlem for great food and entertainment.  The cuisine is described as “multi-ethnic nouvelle” and includes Caribbean, Latin and Asian influences.  Another feature of this cooking style is the result makes for a healthier take on traditional Southern cuisine, which makes “GU” the only restaurant in Harlem that can offer its clientele “guilt-free” soul food.

For an appetizer I suggest Sweet Potato Ravioli in a chive butter sauce with nutmeg for an appetizer.  It is delectable jumping off point for your foray into soul food fusion.  In lieu of a soup or salad, I suggest the Cajun Style Tuna with curried plantain, micro greens, tomato papaya salad and cider wine vinaigrette.  Your mouth will burst from the flavors of this dish and is one of my favorites on the menu.  For an entrée, I suggest the Beer Braised Barbecue Short Ribs.  Trust me when I tell you FAMERS, there is nothing short about the flavors in this dish.  It is served with triad potato salad, collard greens and an orange BBQ glaze. 

One minor drawback of “GU” was the original name of Gospel Uptown.  The name may have suggested to some that it was a restaurant that fused religion and food.  Aware of the importance of branding, the owners have made an effort to stress the initials of the restaurant/entertainment venue.  “GU” does not only feature Gospel performances, but Jazz, R&B, Opera and comedy shows as well.   “GU” is a welcomed change from traditional soul food restaurants because it focuses on the overall dining experience, not just the food.

“Gospel really means good news,” Holland says, “The emphasis for me has not been so much on any kind of religious or specific musical genre, but more on the good news and what it means to have a place that has elegant ambiance, fine dining and great entertainment and have it in the heart of Harlem.  That is what the good news is all about.”

GU Beer Braised Short Rib

 Recipe prepared by Chef Kenneth Collins

Braised Short Rib

2 pieces about 6 inches

Dry Rub Ingredients

Beer                                   2 each

Onion Powder                   2 Tbls

Smoked Garlic                  2 Tbls

Smoked Paprika               2 Tbls

Ancho Chili Powder          4 Tbls

Smoked Black Pepper      2 Tbls

Dried Oregano                  2 Tbls

Kosher Salt                       3 Tbls

Brown Sugar                     3 Tbls

Thyme                               2 Tbls

Cilantro                             2 Tbls

Ginger                               2 Tbls

Lemongrass                     2 Tbls

Mix the dry rub ingredients together and apply them to the cleaned Short Ribs.

Massage a generous amount of dry rub into the meat, to achieve the desired flavor.

After the rub marinates for about 2 – 6 hours grill the meat to sear in the spices and juices.

The longer the meat marinates the stronger the flavors.

After searing, place the ribs face down in a hotel or sheet pan and pour the beer over the ribs.

Cover the ribs with foil; perforate the foil so the smoke penetrates the meat.

Place ribs in a smoker for about 4 hours at 275 – 325 degrees, if you do not have a smoker, the same applies in your conventional oven

After 4 hours remove from the smoker (or oven).

Serving suggestion:  If you want to slice allow the meat to cool, if not, you may serve straight from the oven with desired sauce.

Feeds 4 

The Journey Behind The Lens


D. Austin

Each day men and women arrive in Manhattan with their life savings in their pocket and a dream illuminating in their minds.  The dream is to be successful in whatever enterprise that brought them to New York City.   Like ole blue eyes says, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Even those who have achieved success in other ponds, crave to make it big in the city by the Hudson River.  This is the case for D. Austin who had a successful photography studio in Atlanta prior to coming to the Big Apple.  D. Austin’s lifelong exploration with photography began when he was 16-years-old.  “It started on a family vacation from California to New York and back,” he recalls as he selects photos to burn on a disk in a Midtown studio, “My dad had bought a manual film camera to document it, and I was the designated photographer.  I didn’t know how to work it, but after two or three days I began to take pictures.”  That was over 20 years ago.

Fast forward to 2010, D. Austin is now focusing on his NYC Powershoot and two coffee table books to be released later this year.  The NYC Powershoot takes place March 20 and 21.   “A Powershoot is an opportunity for anybody that needs pictures, promotional pictures primarily.  It started in Atlanta, and then it started growing in popularity,” D. Austin explains.  Generally a Powershoot involves several photographers, stylists, make-up artists, creative directors, and fashion editors and also serves as a networking opportunity.

The Untimely Pursuits Of Pleasure and Foto Obsessions are the two books D. Austin is currently finishing up.  “The Untimely Pursuits Of Pleasure is an idea I came across in my head where people don’t follow any set rules.  Nothing is like A to B to C, it’s more like A to F to C, so in that way it’s untimely and it’s always in the pursuit of pleasure” he says.  Foto Obsessions is a collection of subjects D. Austin has shot repeatedly and the title affirms his obsession with photography.  In fact, D. Austin’s obsession with the camera has taken him all over the United States before he made his current pit stop in Gotham.    

New York City is the place where some dreams die, some dreams transform into new ones and some dreams become reality.  A photographer often times blurs the lines between dream and reality; however one thing is certain about D. Austin’s photography, his talent is real and will be the vehicle to make all his dreams come true in New York or elsewhere.

To view more of D. Austin’s photography or learn more about the NYC Powershoot please visit,,

Photos courtesy of

Everyday Elegance of Yuken Teruya

Tory Burch (Pink), cuts on paper, glue, 6 x 16 x 12 inches

No artist personifies the quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” better than Yuken Teruya.  His ability to take cardboard cereal, shoe and fruit boxes as well as other objects and transform them into useful works of beauty and grace brings a more noble purpose than the objects original purpose.  Currently showing an exhibit at the Josée Bienvenu Gallery until March 27,   Yuken Teruya turns a simple, white-wall space into a conversation piece.

Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First,

Upon entering the main room of the gallery I was greeted with various cardboard boxes strategically placed around the floor.  The boxes served as the video players and projectors for Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First, the artist’s five channel video installation.  Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First is an entertaining and intelligent labyrinth that examines at the multi-ethnic neighborhoods in New York.  The videos display the voyage of tiny paper boats as they float along the gutter of a street.  The boats contain flags from Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.

Dawn, Knives, Butterfly Chrysalis, Glue

In the smaller rooms of the gallery are works from Dawn, in which an object of his home island of Okinawa serves as a source of inspiration. A chrysalis placed on the edges of different items such as the sole of a shoe, end of a knife or butt of a gun changes the purpose of these random things into a home where a butterfly will be born.  With subtlety, Yuken Teruya shows that anything has the possibility to transcend.

Dawn, Shoe, Butterfly Chrysalis, Glue

Before leaving the gallery I stopped to take one last look at Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First.  I began to liken myself and all New Yorkers to those paper boats and hanging chrysalis.  We are all floating along the streets of New York, bobbing and weaving through traffic, sometimes burrowing underneath in an effort to find that perfectly random place to nestle ourselves, create a cocoon and eventually emerge to be someone greater.   It is this understated commentary that makes Yuken Teruya’s exhibit so powerful and a must see for anyone evolving in the Big Apple.

Photos:  Josée Bienvenu Gallery and Yuken Teruya Studio

Welcome To Her World

The Chinese New Year predicts 2010 to be the Year of Tiger, which brings about the chance for big change and prosperity.   One half of House music’s royal couple is taking this prediction to heart as she released her new album “Anane’s World” on Nervous Records February 16.

Anane performing at Club Ceilo, NYC

“Anane’s World” is an eclectic journey into the musical mind and talent of this Cape Verdean singer, songwriter, producer and DJ.  Yes, Anane can do it all, the proof is evidently clear with this album.  From the first track to the last, Anane provides her listeners with different flavors on each track.  Each song is a new introduction, a new facet showcasing the many influences that have shaped her as an artist. 

“Walking on Thin Ice” is a grooving remake to Yoko Ono’s classic; her sexy vocals offer balance to the guitar riffs and electro-techy beats and pays wonderful homage to an already wonderful song.   Her sultry vocals and the composition of “Ben Ma Mi” have an awesome chillastic vibe and automatically sweeps you to a destination where sandy beaches and umbrella drinks are all that matter.  “Bigger than Life” is a hip-swinging, vogue posing, whacking kind of track that is sure to get drinks down and booties on the floor.  “My Sexy Way” is a funky track that makes head bobbing and body touching a must. 

The cover of Donna Summer’s timeless “Love To Love You Baby” has all the erotic sexiness and funk as the original.  It is very difficult to replicate a song that has stood the test of time.  Music has a life of its own and people attach themselves to songs like they attach themselves to emotions.  Featuring fashion icon Roberto Cavalli, Anane’s version breathes new life into this disco classic and makes the song her own.  “Let’s Get High (Life Love Music)” is an up tempo House track made for all baby powder toting, footwork specialists.

Louie and Anane Vega

Anane could easily rest on her laurels as a model and the wife of legendary producer and DJ Louie Vega, but the music inside her soul refuses to stay dormant.  Taking all the fierceness of a tigress, Anane has set a blazing schedule for herself, as she brings “Anane’s World” on tour throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Since January, Anane has played dates in San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, NYC and Italy.  In March, she will visit Miami, Morocco, Paris, London and Geneva.  “Anane’s World” is a pick for F.A.M.E NYC and provides a proper entry into the world of House music for any Househead, dance music enthusiast or novice. To download “Anane’s World” visit,

 Photos: D. Austin of G Studios